As dutiful citizens of a nation, every individual must consider it their obligation to work for the benefit of society at large. Primarily, the word civic means, “of, relating to, or belonging to a city, a citizen, or citizenship, municipal or civil society”. Combined, ‘Civic Responsibility’ is defined as the “responsibility of a citizen” which comprises actions and attitudes serving the larger purpose of democratic governance through social participation. Civic responsibilities include actions such as voting, doing volunteer work, helping people in need, reporting crimes and suspicious behaviours, etc.

The world, as we report today, is facing a threat that is rapidly spreading and affecting the lives of millions regardless of their social status. Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO)’s declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, it has infected over a million people and killed a thousand. Scientists and doctors around the globe believe that this pandemic could linger around like a sword of Damocles over humans for months or even years ahead; however, if the citizens perform their responsibilities as citizens and follow the standard operating procedure, then the menace of COVID-19 can be taken to a minimum until a vaccine is developed.

There are multiple ways one can fulfil their social responsibility in this trying time. It could be done at the individual level, in collaboration with an organization or at the community level. Least one can do to contain the virus is to follow the guidelines regarding hygiene shared by WHO. Simple actions such as washing hands more frequently, staying at home, and maintaining at least one metre distance from each other can go a long way in preventing the coronavirus from spreading. 

The WHO also recommends that people avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth because it can easily get transmitted through these organs. Other than contraction through physical touch, coronavirus could also infect one through surfaces. Therefore, it has been advised that people with a fever and cough should cover their face with a mask. Above all, raising awareness among fellow citizens through social media or texts would save many from the virus. In a country like Pakistan, where a lot of people do not have access to the internet or smartphones, a word of mouth could easily reach the people on the lower strata of society. However, it is equally important to share authentic informative so as not to mislead other citizens. 

Recently, all the news channels and online newspapers are displaying all the information they can muster, and hence confusing the viewers. The overflow of news calls for smart viewing on the part of the citizens; it is important that a viewer crosschecks facts and news to confirm its validity. 

As the urgency of the situation increases, many leaders and politicians are starting to implement nationwide projects. Similarly, in the leadership of Imran Khan, the government of Pakistan has started an initiative called, “Tiger Force”. Although a top-down project, Tiger Force encourages citizens to help the vulnerable population.

Internationally, people have been helping through donations, campaigns, and volunteer computing. Volunteer computing requires that a person donates its unused storage space for research data analysis. People around the world are coming forward to lend virtual support through an initiative called Folding@home. The Folding@home uses crowd-sourced computing power to run simulations of proteins for research studies. The more netizens donate their unused computer space to the initiative, the faster this project can work its magic. 

The virus has already turned the world upside down, and considering the magnitude of this cataclysmic situation, only a collective action could work to resolve it. Avoiding large gatherings, and sacrificing other luxurious events is the only way the world can collectively reverse the clock. Staying at home is not a convenient sacrifice, especially for those who are a victim of domestic abuse, and those who live in abusive families. However, the more strictly we follow the guidelines, the less the chances of the coronavirus spreading. 

It is said that history is repeating itself. The Greek, “idiot” which once used to be referred to people who did not participate in politics and public affairs has now been transformed into “covidiot” to fit the context. Covidiot means a stupid person who ignores social distancing protocol and hence contributes towards spreading the virus. In Pakistan, the government has decided to impose the Pakistan Penal Code section 269, 270, and 271 for those who defy the guidelines. The Penal Code criminalizes disobedience to quarantine rules. 

However, with the recent ‘Smart Lockdown’ step taken by the federal and provincial governments havoc has been wrecked and civic responsibility has hence become a huge question mark during this pandemic. 

In conclusion, as responsible citizens, we should deem it mandatory to abide by the rules and opt to celebrate upcoming religious events with rather simplicity as to avoid crowding up in markets. This is the least we can do to give back to the community, and the country. We are faced with an unforeseen fate, a disease deadlier than its precedents. We ought to be smart with our actions and movement, for it can make or break our future. 

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The author belongs to Quetta, Balochistan. He is the winner of 'English Article' category of the Writing Contest held by VOB from June-July, 2019.

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